Experiencing a Truly Inclusive Public Bus Service

Apr 28, 2021, 10:51 AM

28 Apr 2021

Title : Experiencing a Truly Inclusive Public Bus Service
Abstract : A small and simple step to making our public transport system more inclusive for all

Image used with permission from Tower Transit


Written by: Eric Wong

26 April 2021


How many of us had really paid any attention to our public transport services in the cities we live in? I think we’ve all taken it for granted that it’s a service that’s there, and it’s supposed to work. Well, at least for the most part of it. We really only paid some real attention when it started to inconvenience us, and that’s when it breaks down.


My kid and I had the privilege to be participating in the inaugural session of the Public Bus Inclusivity Course (PBIC), an initiative by Tower Transit Singapore in partnership with SG Enable and the Public Transport Council.


Tower Transit Singapore created the Public Bus Inclusivity Course (PBIC) and the Public Bus Confidence Course (PBCC) which helps people with mobility issues regain their confidence to take the bus.


This course is one of the most meaningful courses that I’ve attended. Not only am I now aware of the difficulties that some of our fellow commuters face, but this also presents a wonderful opportunity for me to have a parenting moment with my kid, allowing us to experience and understand how we can help make our public transport a more pleasant one for all.


Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



Here are some of the interesting things I’ve learned from the course conducted at the Jurong East Bus Interchange:


1) The yellow tiles with the textured design is not for decorative purpose


This is called “Tactile paving”, and it’s a system that helps the visually impaired navigate. According to Wikipedia, this system had been around for quite some time now. It’s something that’s really subtle but yet functional.


Tactile paving — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore

2) Reserved Seats and Priority Queue


This is something that’s very thoughtful to have a reserve seating area with a priority queue at a location in the line of sight for the bus captain. As the bus captain pulls up in the bus bay, they can observe to see if there are any commuters that require priority boarding and attend to them first before allowing the rest of the commuters to board.


Reserved Seating — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



Priority Queue — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



3) Tactile Braille Indicators in the queue stand


This is something that I thought was quite clever and empowering for our fellow commuters who are visually impaired to not have to rely on others to figure out the queues for the buses.


Tactile Braille Indicators — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



4) “Heart Zone”


This is a wonderful idea where an area is set up to both remind us to step forward to help others, and also for commuters to get assistance from the friendly staff at the bus interchange. There are also wheelchairs available for commuters to use to get around the area.


Heart Zone — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



5) Features for better accessibility and support for bus captains to better serve commuters


It was also interesting to know that our buses are also fitted with wheelchair-friendly features which we were able to better understand how it would benefit our fellow commuters. As we went through the course, I was also pleasantly surprised and impressed that Tower Transit took the extra mile in hiring a Customer Experience & Inclusivity Officer, Mr. Kishon Chong to promote inclusivity on public transport. The result was amazing and there was indeed a strong sense of awareness from the operator in being able to cater for a more inclusive experience.


Wheelchair ramp — Jurong East Interchange, Singapore



Conversation with my kid


My kid and I certainly enjoyed ourselves at the event, and this also gave me an opportunity to explore the different topics especially the need for inclusivity in our society. This I felt is an important part of his education and development.


The course allowed us to learn about what fellow commuters with mobility issues go through on a daily basis and also help build our awareness of the needs of the people around us.


Isaac trying out how to board the bus using a wheelchair

Isaac trying out how to board the bus using a wheelchair


Isaac helping a fellow commuter get off the bus

Isaac helping a fellow commuter get off the bus



Through my conversation with my kid, it is heartening to know that he doesn’t see fellow commuters with mobility issues as incapable of getting around. In fact, he was able to point out that putting in place such inclusive measures, it helps all commuters better navigate the surrounding. I’m also glad that he would step up and not feel shy about asking someone if they needed help with something.


As a parent, I think that this is a conversation that we need to constantly have with our kids, and it is through these conversations we impart the values of an inclusive society.


To find out more


While I’m very excited to have benefited from a very well-designed program and gain a deeper appreciation for our public transport system in Singapore, I don’t think I’ve done it justice trying to share everything I’ve learned in this article. I would strongly encourage all of you who are interested in finding out more to visit the Public Bus Inclusivity Course page.


An article on the event is also published in The Straits Times “New course launched to equip students with skills to help bus commuters with disabilities”


I hope you’ve enjoyed this article as much as I had fun writing it. Do share your thoughts and comments!


This post first appeared on Medium at this link.


About the author!


Eric Wong is a father of 2 amazing kids and is constantly learning from them. For work, Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark. His experience spans the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering, and Talent Management. Eric is also the Advisor for Workbond and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on  Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.